Send In The Clowns

Words & Music by Stephen Sondheim
Recorded by Judy Collins, 1975
From the musical "A Little Night Music"

G    A7       D      G    A7    D
Is - n't it rich?  Aren't we a pair?

A7  D       A7   D                  D7         G
Me here at last on the ground, and you in mid-air --

Em    G       D        Em - G - D
Send in the clowns.

G    A7       D      G    A7      D
Is - n't it bliss?  Don't you approve?

A7  D         A7      D               D7            G
One who keeps tear - ing around, and one who can't move.

Em    G             D       Em  G  A7    D
But where are the clowns?  Send in the clowns.


 C#7         F#m    Bm7     F#m
Just when I stopped opening doors,

 C#7     F#m        Bm         F#m         Bm
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours;

F#m        E7                    F#m    E7
Making my entrance again with my usual flair,

Bm7         F#m7    Em7        A7
Sure of my lines -- no one is there.

G     A7         D      G   A7      D
Don't you love farce?  My fault, I fear;

A7  D          A7     D       DM7       D7        G
I thought that you'd want what I want - sorry my dear.

     Em    G         A7            Em  G  A7    D
But where are the clowns?  Quick, send in the clowns.

  Em    G       A7     D
Don't bother, they're here.

G     A7      D     G   A7      D
Is - n't it rich?  Is - n't it queer,

A7    D       A7    D       DM7  D7        G
Los - ing my tim - ing this late in my career?

     Em    G        A7            Em  G  A7    D
But where are the clowns? There ought to be clowns...

 Em    G     A7   D
Well, maybe next year.

This song has been memorably recorded by a number of major recording artists, not the least of which was Frank Sinatra's version in 1973. One version I have seen, but never heard, is credited to Barbra Streisand and includes a second bridge that I have neither seen nor heard anywhere else:

            What a surprise! Who could foresee
            I'd come to feel about you what you felt about me?
            Why only now, when I see that you've drifted away?
            What a surprise...what a cliché...

Another bit of interesting backstory on this song was sent to me by a recent visitor who was (in his words) "a young stagehand on that show...we built the scenery in the fall of 1972 and took it to Boston for a tryout."

The song "Clowns" wasn't even in the original score. Sondheim wrote it in his hotel room during the run in Boston when it became clear they needed a new number with two attributes. First, it had to be pretty and hum-able. Second, it had to be in a narrow melodic range for the actress to comfortably sing. If I remember correctly, Sondheim finished it, and they put it into the show all in one or two days. It was an instant crowd pleaser, and it easily crossed over into pop.

The lyric and guitar chord transcriptions on this site are the work of The Guitarguy and are intended for private study, research, or educational purposes only. Individual transcriptions are inspired by and and based upon the recorded versions cited, but are not necessarily exact replications of those recorded versions.